***Eugène Lapierre is Vice President of Tennis Canada and Tournament Director for the Montreal Rogers event. The Granby native has been involved all of his life in tennis. A former top Canadian junior player, he attended Belhaven College in Mississippi on scholarship before assuming different positions in tennis: tennis pro in Granby and in Quebec City, Technical Director for Tennis Quebec before joining Tennis Canada as an assistant to Richard Legendre. The future Canadian Hall of Fame member talked to us in his hometown where he was acting as the tournament director for the Granby Challenger.***
ONcourt: How did you feel when you first heard of the decision to hold both the Mens and the Womens Rogers Event on the same week?
Eugène Lapierre: Of course, we were all taken a little aback since the logistics were changed completely from the overall operation that we had run for years. But pretty quickly we saw the benefits we could derive from such an initiative.
ONcourt: What are those benefits specifically?
Eugène Lapierre: First, we are going to introduce the first virtual tournament in the history of professional tennis. One tournament, mens and womens events in two different cities.
Second, we will be having almost twelve hours of tennis daily on television and the networks now have two channels and may choose to show both the men and women simultaneously. As well, the weekend will be reminiscent of the old US open super Saturday where you could see 4 semi-finals in a row. What a great show followed by two finals on Sunday.
Finally, it will be an improved on-site fan experience. Once fans walk out of the stadium courts, there will be TV sets and screens everywhere showing the matches in the other city.
ONcourt: Have you added other wrinkles to make the whole experience better?
Eugène Lapierre: You know how we are in Montreal, we like to make sure it’s a great fan experience. This year we have extended the tournament by a day by opening the site for free to customers on the first Friday to come and see the players prepare for the tournament. Fans will be able to attend Friday, Saturday and Sunday [qualifying rounds] for free at the gate.
Finally, we have built stands in Jarry Park, where people enjoying the Park will now be able to see matches for free by just walking into the stands. As well, we will turn our big screen towards the park so people can see action everywhere including what is happening in Toronto.